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Guyana to spend $20M on CARIFESTA XI; 2008 debts still outstanding

(L-R) Minister of Culture Dr. Frank Anthony; Director of Culture Dr. James Rose; Special Projects Officer Lennox Canterbury; and Film Coordinator Enrico Woolford.

Guyana has budgeted some $20M for its 50-member contingent to participate in CARIFESTA XI being held in Suriname from August 16 to 26.

This was revealed by Culture Minister Dr. Frank Anthony on Thursday at a news briefing where he said that participating countries now have to pay their way unlike when Guyana hosted the event.

“There’s a new model that was put in place by CARICOM and that new model would see some of the events happening during the festival, people would have to pay for it and also with the new model delegations going to the festival would have to pay their cost,” the minister said.

The estimated $20M would cover accommodation, meals, travel to Suriname and other needs such as props and stands for performers and exhibitors. Suriname is expected to cover internal transportation costs.

Dr. Anthony noted that the host had also set the official delegation size at 50 persons maximum. However, he said they were willing to include others under the Guyana contingent if they could secure sponsorship and the ministry would provide them with passes for the event.

But even as the ministry gets ready to spend on this latest cultural extravaganza there are debts outstanding from when Guyana hosted the event in 2008 with staff, performers and companies among those owed.

When asked what was the status with efforts to settle those debts Dr. Anthony said he did not have an update on the matter.

“There were a few people that we had monies for and I recall one company took us to court and they’ve got their money, I’m not sure who else we might have money for but there might still be a few people.”

According to the minister, it was a “very small sum” outstanding and when pressed said he believed it was “probably less than $10 million.”

“The difficulty that we have is that if you don’t have an allocation in the year to pay it, while there is an acknowledged liability, you can’t pay it because there’s no budget for it and I think that’s the trouble we’ve had over the last couple years,” the minister added.

Areas to be showcased at CARIFESTA XI include film, performing arts, visual arts, literary arts, culinary arts, arts and craft, indigenous arts and fashion.

The event activities also include an extended Grand Cultural Market and Trade Fair; performing arts in theatre, dance, music and storytelling; youth focus; community festivals; super concerts; film festival; capacity building workshops; meetings and networking events.

Auditions were held to identify those who would comprise the official delegation and others whose works would be exhibited at the event.